written by: Natasha Stiller
• edited by: Benjamin Sell
• updated: 7/21/2015
Summer time is the perfect time to go outside, engage children's senses, and create. Use this opportunity to teach children how things grow. This is a fun lesson to encourage students to participate using a variety of senses as well as learning about gardening fundamentals of math and science.
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It is known that students learn and retain more information when they are able to apply a variety of senses to their learning experience. An example of a fun, cooperative lesson that includes all students and most of their senses is square foot gardening. In addition, the lesson incorporates activities that can be utilized to teach both science and math objectives.
Beginning the Lesson
The first step in the process would be to learn about plants and how they grow. Students can complete diagrams of different parts of a plant, starting from seed to plant. Sequencing, using a diagram and vocabulary are used to complete this formal introduction of plant development.
For more of a basic assignment, students can have three pots set up that are treated in different ways, one with correct nourishment of water and sun, another with too much water, and another with no sunlight. Students can compare the growth of these plants as well as create a hypothesis of how to correctly care for plants that will be planted in the square foot garden.
Creating the Garden
The second step in the process would be to create the square foot garden. Minimal supplies are needed, and students can work together to measure and map out what their garden will look like. Depending on the size of the planter, you could have up to six or seven plants in your planter for students to keep track of their growth and maintenance.
Students can estimate how much soil will be needed for the planter and can be compared with the actual amount needed. Collectively, students can figure out the best way to figure out the solution to this problem and then can calculate how much it will cost to fill the planter, as well as how many packets of seeds will be needed for planting.
Once this purchase is made, students can start planting and keep a daily tracking chart of what is being done for the plants, what observations are made, and charting the growth of the plants. In just a few days, small seedlings will appear, providing students with quick results for their work. Vegetable plants are easy to grow from seeds and will start to engage students in the prospect of having a final product to display.
In addition to these activities, students can participate in short journal entries and drawings that will further explore their knowledge about the experiments that are taking place in the classroom.
I believe it is important to provide hands-on experiences for kids. Unit studies, such as this one allow for group participation, some independent study, and provides opportunity for a variety of senses to be used during exploration.